A couple of days ago I was searching in my basement for some old books that I knew I had stored down there. I was hoping to find my Dick and Jane’s to put in my new bookends on top of my cute little chest that we had just found to put between our cozy chairs. It was the perfect last step in our family room home make over. Instead of coming up with Dick and Jane I walked upstairs with a book that belonged to my mother-in-law, that I didn’t even know that we possessed.
It was titled ENGLISH ACTIVITIES GRADE SEVEN. “Great, I thought, I wonder what these practice lessons would look like.” Some of you, like me remember our old grammar books heavy grammar books that we toted around from our freshman to our senior years in high school. They were fat enough for four years of work in the early ’70s. But this little slim volume intrigued me. There was a girl pictured on the cover speaking into a circular microphone. “A radio station,” I wondered. I opened up to the copyright page. It was published in 1936 by the American Book Company. The next page was the PREFACE.
In 1935 the National Council of Teachers of English published An Experience Curriculum in English in which these statements appear:
1. The idea curriculum consists of well-selected experiences. I agree !
2. The program of experiences must be well balanced. I agree !
3. The program of experiences must be orderly. Yep !
4. Experiences must be adapted to the needs and capacities of individual learners. Amen!
5. Techniques are essential and must be cummulative All the grades contribute !
6. A curriculum of actual experiences in communication must be like these
a. Make the pupils conscious of a worthy occasion for communication
b. Let the pupils attempt speaking or writing or both Can you disagree with any?
c. Give advice on the techniques used to communicate
d. Their work must be measured in terms of the audience.
e. Introduce specific practice of a skill that students realize the worth, but have not mastered.
f. Noting growth, by comparing success on this and previous similar occasions.
First of all, I was amazed that the National Council of Teachers of English have been around this many years. I love the emphasis on oral expression which cuts right to the heart of what I believe. This little slim volume of treasures goes on to describe English as a social subject, integrated units, separation of expression and mechanics and how teaching a few things thoroughly is better than many.
Next I turned to the Table of Contents and was intrigued by
Unit IV , TELLING EVERYDAY ADVENTURES Hmmm… I just talked about that last week!
I decided to investigate this amazing little nugget…ending your story satisfactorily. I’m investigating this for a reason. Endings are parts of my stories that I agonize over. The text says, “Even though your story has a challenging beginning, the excitement of suspense, and excellent choice of words, it will not be effective unless it has a satisfying ending.” The author offer mentor texts to read and decide whether the ending is satisfying or not. The students are then invited to practice some endings on incomplete stories. again using mentor texts.
Who would have thought that I would feel such kinship to Verlee’s textbook written 76 years ago. I’m maybe discovering that I’m more old fashioned than I thought. Good teaching just doesn’t go out of style. This book is promtly displayed in my new bookends.